NZADDs Email Update: forum follow up, the changing world of Australian aid and more…

Hello and welcome to another NZADDs update.

What will come of Australian Aid?
It’s still very hard to work out what the Coalition government has in mind for Australian aid but some commentary and analysis is available. We have a Devpolicy blog post up discussing what international research and the New Zealand case suggests Australians who care about aid need to be wary of. Former AusAIDer Robin Davies has a Devpolicy blog post offering some very wise advice to the new government on aid agency structure. And Robin and Ashlee Betteridge analyse what is currently known about what might happen to the aid programme. Coming from a somewhat more radical perspective Australian NGO Aid/Watch offers its perspectives here.

Aid Forum: Keynote Talk and Media Coverage
The Aid Forum ‘Looking Forward: NZ Aid Beyond 2015’ was held in Wellington on 4 September with about 130 people participating. We’re received great feedback on the Forum. Many people expressed a desire for more of these sorts of convening opportunities to talk about New Zealand aid and development. This is one of the reasons NZADDs was established and we hope to continue to bring you activities like this.
If you weren’t there, you can listen to the keynote speaker, Professor Stephen Howes of the Development Policy Centre, here. You can download his slides here.
Various speakers at the Aid Forum received radio media coverage, including Stephen. Read the transcripts here and here. Exploring what works and what doesn’t in international aid, Radio New Zealand’s Ideas show also spoke with Stephen Howes, along with Oxfam’s Duncan Green and UnionAID’s Helen Wilson. Listen here.

Investments to End Poverty
Development Initiatives have just launched their ‘Investments to End Poverty Report’. They describe the report in the following way: “Our inaugural Investments to End Poverty report will map the complex landscape of domestic and international resource flows to developing countries and outline an approach to release greater value from aid investments – in particular to end poverty by 2030. We hope it will provide an accessible, high-quality resource for donor governments, aid agencies and other actors to ensure that aid is targeted where it will have the greatest impact on ending poverty as quickly as possible.”
We’ve only skimmed it, but it seems an incredible resource, containing information on what is needed and what donors give. There is some interesting information buried within it on New Zealand aid too. It looks well worth a read. Download here.

New Civil Society Enabling Environment Index
CIVICUS have launched a brand-new index for assessing the country-level conditions supporting citizen engagement in civil society. Called the Enabling Environment Index (EEI), it assesses 53 indicators across 109 countries (selected due to data availability). Indicators include broad contextual factors, such as a popluation’s education and level of inequality, to more specific indicators on legislative frameworks and civil liberties. New Zealand ranks top, with Australia third. Bottom is the Democratic REpublic of Congo, with Uzbekistan second to bottom.

Catching-Up with Various NZ Aid Occurrences
In the throes of Forum-organising, the NZADDs admin team have overlooked a few important happenings in the world of NZ Aid and Development so here’s a rudimentary catch-up.
  • The Aid Programme’s results framework is out, giving a clear overview of what the Programme aims to achieve over the next few years.
  • Round Two of the Partnerships for International Development fund (PF) applicants have been awarded. The Aid Programme provides some useful graphics here. Of note, charitable organisations won 83% of the funds awarded, with state sector organisations receiving 17%. The bulk of the funding goes to the Pacific and to economic development activities. There is an interesting bar chart on page two, showing the spread across countries of SDF, PF Round One and PF Round Two. Projects funded are spread across a total of 31 countries since the inception of SDF, with eight Pacific countries, and 23 African and Asian countries. Funding was also awarded for Pacific Regional activities. The PF has awarded funding to activities in 20 countries, spread across the original 31 SDF countries.
  • Minister McCully led the annual Pacific Mission, this year to PNG, Bougainville, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. The delegation is made-up of parliamentarians, NGO representatives and business people representing NZ companies with interests in the Pacific. This year the trip included the opening of the Munda Runway in Western Province, Solomon Islands.
  • The Munda Runway is now open after the New Zealand aid-funded upgrade. The project has been plagued with disruptions and it must be a relief to have it finally completed. But even now, a local tribe is threatening to close the airport, claiming they were not involved in negotiations about the upgrade. Let’s hope it doesn’t end-up like the Auki airport on Malaita, closed for months for the same reason. Time will tell if a mere runway upgrade leads to an influx of tourists. The locals in Munda certainly have their expectations raised that it will. A step in this direction would be if the Solomon Islands government upheld their side of the bargain and built the fence and new terminal, among other things. There are no signs of this happening any time soon.
  • The landmark ASEAN NZ Inc. Strategy, ‘New Zealand’s ASEAN Partnership: One Pathway to Ten Nations‘, was launched about a month ago. This is the first regional NZ Inc. strategy. As a ‘whole-of-government’ strategy it encompasses New Zealand’s ODA and adds to accreting evidence aid is ever-more a subsidy to New Zealand’s short-term economic interests. The strategy articulates the New Zealand government’s desires to increase integration and influence with ASEAN, and to boost trade and economic returns. The aim is to increase New Zealand exports to ASEAN by 40%, double the education value from ASEAN, double two-way investment, and increase tourism from ASEAN. The Aid Programme’s scholarships, agricultural diplomacy activities and young Asian leaders’ trips to NZ fit well with these goals. Geothermal energy and tourism are core focal areas for the Aid Programme as a whole, again linking nicely with key New Zealand industries.
  • On a related note, I (Jo) am still waiting for the Minister’s Office to respond to the complaint I laid with the Ombudsman’s Office in September 2011, regarding the refusal of a May 2011 Official Information Act request for the government’s ‘NZ Inc.’ review. That’s two years.

Bad Aid
And finally, what would you call someone who set up an aid agency claiming to help refugees in Africa, but which ultimately ended up running a diamond mine? We’re still short of words but the person in question is U.S. televangelist Pat Robertson. Read about his efforts here. If the allegations are true he has made a strong play for the least likeable person of the decade award.